Monday, March 31, 2008

Updated: Free Fantasy Baseball Tools for 2008 Draft Prep

If there's one thing that TheRotoFeed.com appreciates, it's free fantasy baseball content. The bottom line is that the paid services out there, although often valuable as time-savers, do not hold some secret corner on the market for fantasy baseball knowledge - in fact, it's shown that their stat projections really don't do appreciably better than the free ones. There's plenty of good stuff if you know where to look.

As such, TheRotoFeed.com presents -

20+ Totally Free Fantasy Baseball Tools for 2008 Draft Preparation
updated 3/31/2008

FanGraphs - a fascinating website for stat geeks with right brain leanings. If the difference between a SLG of .350 and .432 is hard for you to picture, let FanGraphs draw one for you. Does your 50 lb. copy of Baseball Prospectus tell you that someone may resemble Ray Lankford? Take a peek at FanGraphs to see what Ray Lankford's career arch looked like - and maybe, if you are wondering about players named Curtis, what Ray Lankford did at age 27.

ZiPS Projections - The Baseball Think Factory also provides stats projections to FanGraphs and have a whole lot more than numbers to offer on its site. BTF folks are not casual Yahoo leaguers. They study sabermetrics and economics. These are the guys playing Diamond Mind in their basements. Their projections were the best free ones out there in 2007 according to this article at Baseball Prospectus Unfiltered. Keep an eye as well on BTF's Transaction Oracle for heads-ups on signings and promotions.

Marcel Projections - Also used on FanGraphs.com, Marcel projections are interesting in that they use much less data than all the others on out there (including those here) but as far as accuracy, according to Baseball Prospectus, generally did pretty darn well nonetheless in 2007, coming in fourth.

Chone Projections - Chone provides player stats projections to FanGraphs as well. But Chone's projections go beyond offense and pitching to defense. Came in on that BP list below Marcel but still above some premium services

RotoAuthority Projections - Tim Dierkes is the RotoAuthority, the mind behind the gold standard of free fantasy baseball blogs, and he also runs MLBTradeRumors, the best independent website on the Internet at its stated mission - gathering all the trade whispers from around baseball. Even Peter Gammons reads Tim's work. His contribution is among the biggest among those giving it away pretty much for free - even if his website design doesn't match the content quality. This year, he's giving his projections away for free while asking that you bring him five new readers. I think I did by now.

ESPN Projections - You've probably seen these, but worth including here considering they were the third most accurate in 2007 according to that BP article.

Thomas George's Dollar Value Calculator - TG Fantasy Baseball is a great destination all year 'round for player news and depth charts, but this tool is a particularly good example of TG's work. TG is also affiliated with a paid service called RotoUmpire.com for resolving league disputes.

Thomas George's Downloadable MLB stats
- Also from TG but worthy of a separate mention, you can download the actual 2001-2007 MLB player stats in Excel, Word and even PDF formats - great if you prefer to skip expert projections and crunch numbers on your own.

Sports Fanatics' Tier Ratings - For those who find dollar values and even draft ranks dizzying, Mike Inglett provides a simplified approach - a tiered perspective on who to choose when for standard Roto setups. Some may find this oversimplified. Others could argue that nitpicky dollar values are arbitrary when you look at say, 2007 results vs. projections. No one had A-Rod going first.

Mock Draft Central's Expert Draft Results - See who the so-called experts chose in a mid-January draft - the next one is at the end of this month. I wonder how many of them would have picked A-Rod first LAST year?

FantasyAuctioneer.com's Average Auction Values - If you take the term experts with a grain of salt, here's who the larger fantasy community is picking. Probably shouldn't use this as your draft cheat sheet, but a great way to know what the "market" thinks.

MVN.com's Roster Magazine's Fantasy Kit
- An impressive array of attractive and useful content is included, from cheatsheets, rankings and profiles, to articles from a variety of stars from around the rotosphere.

The Inside Pitch's Closer Watch - You might think this one is best for once the season begins, but usually closers are still shifting around the day you're drafting. Don't let the low-budget looking website fool you - the info is usually pretty accurate and frequently updated.

Fantasy Gameday's Average Draft Position and Scarcity Reports - This year’s version has 554 players ranked by average draft position data that has been collected from 11 mock drafts. Included are projections for over 500 players, which were developed from comparing three projection systems (PECOTA, CBS, Bill James). Useful in that it shows you mock drafts for a number of league configurations and sizes. This becomes just one of 8 sources as part of an impressive analysis from a Fantasy Baseball Cafe member's focus on median draft positions.

Baseball Insights - An impressive array of tools are available after a 15-second account registration process, from player values to stats, to news. In addition to this single downloadable file encompassing all of its player projections, it also pairs individually searchable projections with news - so it might be a good place to double-check right before you hit the draft button in case of late-breaking injuries, etc.

Sports Grumblings' Fantasy Forecast ® Projections - Sports Grumblings' projections are nice in that they are customizable for mixed or NL/AL only leagues. Plus there's use of the word proprietary, a nifty ® sign and a mention of a "top-secret methodology." That's like real bits of panther, so you KNOW it's good.

Fantasy Baseball Cafe Members' Treasure Trove
- This collection of fantasy baseball files was created by Lloyd Sommerer and readers of the Fantasy Baseball Cafe Forums. It includes documents for preparing for a draft/auction and documents for running one. It's pretty damn comprehensive - we were impressed.

Isaac "Ike" Warner of Nine Bo Jacksons brings you his Dynamic Value System and his Idiot Proof Drafting System - Two powerful Excel workbooks (6 and 46MB respectively), the DVS is for quickly calculating SGP based values as you draft while the IPDS is for diving deep in advance of drafting with customized values. Both use RotoAuthority's projections (see above) although it wouldn't take a brain surgeon to copy paste any source's in there. More explanation is here for those interested in methodologies.

Sportsnipe's MLB Injury Report
- Don't get that feeling during the draft. You know, the one when you take a player and you get momentarily all proud of yourself for somehow finding value in the late rounds. Until the instant he hits your roster - when everyone tells you in unison that he's injured. And the guy who bid you up an extra $3 sneers in your direction. This list looks to be updated very regularly, perhaps even in an automated way.

LiveStatTracker.com - Don't want to pay extra to track stats live? Company firewall getting in the way? Try this service now that games are getting started.

TheRotoFeed.com - C'mon, you had to be expecting a plug at some point. In addition to The RotoFeed.com's Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Dashboard and our own free projections, TheRotoFeed.com makes staying up to date with fantasy baseball from now until draft and throughout the season a breeze by combining every decent fantasy baseball blog into one RSS feed. Plus we complied this great article. So show us some love and Digg us, or Ballhype us, or Yardbark us, or something!

1 comment:

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